San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts dates to the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition. One of the only remaining buildings from the World’s Fair, the Greco-Roman–inspired ruin is a favorite Bay Area venue. Walk under the picturesque rotunda, wander the grounds, and visit lagoons that are home to ducks, swans, and geese.
Located in close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts is included in many city sightseeing tours. In addition to traditional walking or minivan group tours, try a self-guided bike excursion or a group cycling tour that visits the grounds. If visiting independently, stop briefly for pictures, or plan ahead and pack a picnic to enjoy on the grounds. The nearby Presidio, Marina District, and Crissy Field waterfront are popular, walkable destinations to check out as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Palace of Fine Arts is a must-visit for history buffs and photographers.
- There is no fee to visit the landmark.
- Bring layers, as its close proximity to the water can make for cooler weather.
- The flat paths are easily walkable, and accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The best way to get to the Palace of Fine Arts is by car or public transportation. There’s a small on-site parking lot and free street parking in the neighborhood, and Muni buses 30, 43, 28, and 29 stop nearby. It’s also a quick walk from the Presidio or Golden Gate Bridge.
When to Get There
The Palace of Fine Arts is open all day all year, but is best enjoyed during daylight hours. The rotunda is lit at night, but it’s difficult to see and explore the surrounding lagoon area. If visiting on a rainy day, bring an umbrella, as the rotunda is the only covered area.
Pack a Picnic
On a nice day, the Palace of Fine Arts is the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Pick up food at one of the many restaurants on nearby Chestnut or Union streets in the Marina district. Enjoy a walk through the quaint neighborhood to the palace and pick a lovely spot near the lagoon or rotunda.